ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Luo Jialun (1897-1969) wielded significant influence in politics and education in 20th-century China, as well as being an accomplished poet, author, and collector. He became active in politics during his studies at Fudan School in Shanghai. In 1917, while studying foreign literature at Beijing University, Luo Jialun advocated literary reforms as an editor of the student periodical The Renaissance. These efforts culminated in his role as a student leader in the May 4th Movement. He spent several years abroad and studied in the United States, London, Berlin, and Paris. After Luo returned to China he joined the Nationalist government and was appointed deputy head of instruction at the Central Party Institute in Nanjing in 1927. He served as president of the Tsinghua University between 1928 and 1930. In 1932 he was appointed president of National Central University in Nanjing, serving until 1941. During this time he led the University to safety in Chongqing during the Sino- Japanese war. Luo Jialun served as the Republic of China's ambassador to India from 1947-1949, before he returned to Taiwan and assumed additional education-related official duties. This impressive landscape was inspired by Wang Meng's (1308-1385) Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains, now in the Shanghai Museum. Zhang saw this painting in 1919, when it was in the Shanghai collection of Di Baoxian (1872-ca. 1940s) and kept it in his mind through the following decades. The artist painted his interpretation of Wang Meng's composition in late summer 1949, just before he left China for the last time. When Zhang Daqian reached India, he met Ambassador Luo Jialun, who helped him by arranging for Zhang to participate in an art exhibition. In gratitude for Luo's support and in recognition of the official's interest in Chinese paintings, Zhang presented him with this work. In gratitude, Luo Jialun responded with a poem of praise and thanks and treasured the painting in his family collection until this time. After his return from studying Dunhuang wall murals in 1943, Zhang intensified his energies in learning about Song and Yuan dynasty painting. Zhang emulated works by old masters such as Wang Meng (1308-1385) and Wu Zhen (1280-1354), copying and reinterpreting works to develop his own hybrid style. In everything he undertook, Zhang was determined to surpass famous ancient artists and scholars, for he believed that imitating past masters was like practicing artistic alchemy in the hopes of transmuting the iron of raw talent into gold. One such piece, 'Living in the Mountains on a Summer Day' after Wang Meng, created in 1947, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong in May 2008. Similarly, Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains was also painted as a reinterpretation of Wang Meng's famous Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains, created in 1366 and currently housed in the Shanghai Museum. Zhang's Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains is painted in warm autumnal colours of red, light green and ochre. Zhang fills the foreground with abundant foliage, creating landscape forms that simultaneously emerge from and recede into a dense atmosphere. Zhang Daqian attempted to convey the inner landscape of the heart and mind. The thatched hut in the painting, inspired from Buddhist meditation huts, complements the reflective nature of its occupant, further accentuated by the inscription: Solid green, the crags and cliffs Reach right up to my study desk; I know these tall trees of bright Blossoms come from sacred roots. As I climb the mountain, my lofty Thoughts grow as warm as clouds; Smiling faintly in the quiet hall where traces of my dream remain. One of the last few large-scale paintings Zhang finished in China before fleeing from Communist rule, Zhang was adamant in creating meditative works that reflected and celebrated the serenity of a mountain retreat in a time of turbulence and unpredictability. Landscapes were Zhang's primary vehicle for visual self-revelation - China's turmoil strengthened him both as an artist and as an individual, and set the tone for his continued success as a painter.
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)

Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains

ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains
Inscribed with a poem and signed, with three seals of the artist
Dated the seventh month of jichou year (1949)
Titleslip by Luo Jialun (1897-1969)
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
163 x 51.3 cm. (64 1/8 x 20 1/4 in.)
20th Century
Property of an American Lady

Essays of The Symposium of Chang Dai-Chien's Art (In Memory of Chang's 90th Birthday), National Museum of History, Republic of China, Taipei, 1988, p.162, pl.29.
Exhibition Catalogue, Shen C.Y. Fu and Jan Stuart, Challenging the Past-The Paintings of Chang Dai-chien, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., 1991, pp. 180-181, pl. 38.
Washington D.C., Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; New York, Asia Society; St. Louis, St. Louis Art Museum, Challenging the Past-The Paintings of Chang Dai-chien, 24 November 1991-5 April 1992.

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